Acts 5:33
There are three attitudes it is possible for us to assume towards our Maker and Savior. They are those of -

I. HOSTILITY. We may "be found even to fight against God." It is, indeed, as new as it is old for men to contend with God and to oppose themselves to those ends for which he is working.

1. Good men do so unwittingly; as when earnest and holy Catholics have persecuted Protestant men and women; as when devout Protestants have thrown obstacles in the way of their more energetic co-religionists who have been evangelizing in ways not considered legal and correct; as when we ignorantly misconstrue the sacred Scriptures, finding out, farther on, that those views we combated were in harmony with truth.

2. Bad men do so deliberately and guiltily:

(1) when they endeavor positively to overturn influences which they know to be holy and remedial;

(2) when they practically encourage that which they feel to be wrong and hurtful.

II. NEUTRALITY. We may take the position which Gamaliel advised with so much policy on this occasion: "Let these men alone" (ver. 38). When any sacred cause comes up before us, challenging our approval and asking our aid, we may determinately stand aloof, declining either to befriend it on the one hand or to withstand it on the other: we neither bless nor curse.

1. It is impossible to take a neutral position, upon the whole, in relation to Christ. "He that is not with him is against him," as he has said to us. Our influence is either telling in favor of his holy service, of Christian truth, of eternal life, or else against these sacred things.

2. It is possible that we may assume a neutrality toward particular institutions, usages, movements, habits; and this neutrality may be

(1) necessary, because we have not the means of arriving at a judgment at all;

(2) wise, because we have not yet had the opportunity of coming to an intelligent decision;

(3) culpable, because cowardly, selfish, unfaithful.

III. CO-OPERATION. (Vers. 40-42.) When they had beaten the apostles - an act of severe bodily castigation was a grim method of "letting them alone; it was probably a concession to the party of hostile action - they did let them go, with strict prohibitions in their ear. We are to be "co-workers with Christ," "workmen together with him;" and we shall become this by:

1. Speaking for Christ. "Daily in the temple.., they ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus Christ" (ver. 42). In the Church, in the school, in the home, - anywhere, everywhere, we too may speak for him; uttering the truth which he has taught us to prize, more especially upholding him himself as the one great Teacher, almighty Savior, Divine Friend, and rightful Lord of the human soul.

2. Suffering for him. The apostles endured suffering and shame for his Name; they did so gladly, rejoicingly. We may be "counted worthy" to do the same. Many thousands of men, in heaven or on earth, have had this high honor (Matthew 5:10-12; 1 Peter 4:13). And if we are thoroughly true and unflinchingly faithful to our Lord, serving him to the full height of our opportunity, we shall surely

(1) suffer bodily inconveniences, fatigue, exhaustion, if not pain and sickness, for his sake;

(2) endure the dislike and ridicule, if not the blows and imprisonment, of the ungodly. In such ill treatment we shall find occasion for heavenly joy, as they did. - C.







When they heard that they were cut to the heart.
The strict meaning of the verb describes the action of a saw, as in Hebrews 11:37. Used figuratively, it seems to imply a more lacerating pain than the "pricked to the heart" of Acts 2:37, leading not to repentance but to hatred. The persons spoken of are principally the high priest and his Sadducean followers (ver. 17).

(Dean Plumptre.)

What would be thought of a doctor who, when called in to a suffering patient, should not at once prescribe the best and swiftest remedy without note or comment; but should proceed to discuss the comparative merits of homoeopathy and allopathy, with sly sarcastic glances at massage, hydropathy and faith-healing, then go on to describe, negatively, all the medicines which have been, or might be given; then positively to describe a remedy recently discovered by a young German doctor, saying he was not quite certain whether it would be effectual, but it was worth trying; that, in any case, with or without medicine, the patient would probably be cured, in this world or the next, and that in the course of a few years, such is the march of intellect in this enlightened age, a better remedy would, no doubt, be discovered? Equally foolish and wrong it is for a Christian minister, standing before a congregation, all suffering more or less from mental and moral disorders, doubts and fears, sins and sorrows, ignorance and self-deceit — all hungering and thirsting after righteousness, or. if not, the more needing a warm-hearted gospel of truth and love to awaken in them a sense of unrighteousness — to make the staple of his discourse a series of clever hair splitting of words with all the opinions of commentators (A B C to Z) who. had tried to find out (say) what St. Paul meant, perhaps winding up with the consolatory remark, that after all, it was not so much to be regretted that the true key to his meaning had been lost, as probably, if Paul had lived now, he would not only have used different words but held different opinions! Let us learn all that grammar and theology can put into our heads, but when we go into the pulpit we go not as grammarians, theologians, scientists, or philosophers, but as preachers to speak from the heart to the heart. Our people ask for bread, not flour and "water; for water, not oxygen and hydrogen.

(R. Bruce, D. D.)

Whoever will not receive truth into his heart, will perhaps be pierced to the heart by the truth. Even this is a victory.

(Starke.)

I. The character of THE CHIEF PRIESTS AND ELDERS; persecuting the servant as they had persecuted the Lord.

1. One new feature there is in this persecution. Among the impugners of our Lord's own doctrine the Pharisee is the more conspicuous: it is he whose hypocrisy made him dread Christ's discernment and holiness, and whose very orthodoxy gave a self-sufficiency to his judgment peculiarly unfavourable to the reception of the truth. But no sooner has Christ left the earth than the opposite party becomes the assailant. And most natural it was that a gospel built upon a resurrection should irritate most strongly the sect which denied that great hope of man. While it was a mere tenet they bore it with composure; when it became a statement of fact, it was at once a struggle for life and death. Great as were the faults of the Pharisee, he had a shorter path to traverse if once his steps should be turned in the direction of Christ's kingdom. The Sadducee was a cold, scoffing, irreligious materialist.

2. And if there be a body of professed Christians who seek to divest the gospel of its supernatural character; who resolve its whole system of duty into respectability rather than holiness and good nature rather than charity; who practically make their nest here, and leave out of sight the world to come; then that body is the type of the Sadducee of other days; and those who have seen anything of the working of that spirit will be at no loss to understand how the Sadducee should outrun the Pharisee in the bitterness of his hostility to all that is distinctive and characteristic in the gospel. The spirit of the Sadducee is in all of us by nature, struggling in us for the mastery with that of the Pharisee and the Herodian. Each of these is but the development of one attribute of fallen nature. What is the Sadducee but the man who avows his disbelief in mysteries of which we all have too feeble a grasp? And what shall we say of those who have accustomed themselves to treat everything lightly till nothing is serious, who have a jest ready for every revelation, and a scoff for every demand of duty, till at length they can neither tremble at God's terrors nor believe in God's love? The Sadducees of our day do not gather themselves together in council to judge the disciples of the Lord: they themselves use the same name, and would be indignant at the denial of the title. But they hate, none the less, and they persecute too, those who truly believe; point at them as ignorant, as old-fashioned, as righteous overmuch, as slaves of the letter, as exclusive and positive and self-sufficient. May such persons ask themselves seriously this one question, Am I certain that I shall never want Christ in loneliness and sorrow, in age and sickness, in She hour of death, and in the day of judgment?

II. And when we turn from this hostility are we not struck with the existence in these days of many a GAMALIEL; Of many a man who is at once observant and candid, anxious to do nothing rashly, waiting, rather to examine credentials, or even to see the end, before he pronounces himself decisively either for or against the gospel?

1. These men have much in them that is attractive, and at first sight all that is reasonable. What but good can come, we might inquire, of that prudent and sensible reminder, in a time of religious excitement and enthusiasm (ver. 38)? And no doubt such a voice is useful. Happy the nation which has such men amongst its counsellors, when an act of hasty tyranny is in danger of treading out the spark of grace and truth! This was the part of Nicodemus, when the case of One greater than the apostles was at issue. Not long afterwards this timid and doubting ally is found testifying a love and a devotion refused by men who owe to Christ their all.

2. But yet we must not overrate a quality which has so much in it of good. Candour, moderation, an open mind and a calm judgment are useful qualities, and at certain times may rise even into great virtues. But not all of them together will suffice to save a soul. There are just a few great questions on which minds ought to be made up; on which if the evidence we possess be not sufficient for conviction, it is our first and most bounden duty to seek and to obtain more. Such a question, above all others, is that of the truth and power, of the person and work, of the Messiahship and Divinity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To be candid on this subject is better indeed than to be prejudiced, scoffing, or hostile; but he who is merely candid concerning Christ is in danger of a life-long suspense, of an ultimate indifference. Men of mere candour, are commonly men who in great emergencies disappoint, and in critical decisions are even worse than foes. Their presence is fatal to generous impulses, to noble enthusiasms. Erasmus was the Gamaliel of the Reformation; calm, critical, deliberative, discerning: but where would the Reformation have been if beside Erasmus there had not been a Luther? If all had waited to see whether this counsel or this work was of men or of God, by watching for its issue, the blow for truth had never been struck, and a reformed faith had never emerged from the mists of Papal darkness. In details, or on subjects of minor moment, it is harmless, it is right, to be Gamaliels; but on the one great question, of having, or not having a Saviour, that man is a fool who postpones his decision, a lost man who dies without making it.

III. THE COMMON PEOPLE who magnified the believers though they durst not join them, and who gladly used their beneficent and healing power. These too have their counterpart amongst us, There are men and women who reverence religion, who count the Christian alone happy, who delight to profit by Christian converse and to record the triumphs of the gospel, but who yet shrink from membership. Such persons are not against Christ, nor are they yet quite with Him. They are something more than candid inquirers; something far beyond men waiting, like Gamaliel, to see the end. Would that they could be induced to take just that one step which divides them from every hope and every comfort of a Christian! Would that they could be led to become not spectators only, but inmates of the sacred porch of Solomon! Believe only, not that Christ died for some, but that He died for thee; no longer an admirer but a partaker of the promises, yea, a fellow citizen with the saints, and of the very household of God!

IV. THE ALTOGETHER CHRISTIAN. Hear his creed as it is rehearsed in this record. I believe that I ought to obey God rather than men; that God has exalted Christ to be a Prince and a Saviour; that the very purpose of that exaltation is that He may bestow repentance and bestow forgiveness; that God for His sake gives His Holy Spirit to all who set themselves in His strength to obey. This was the faith which enabled apostles to brave persecution, nay, to rejoice to be counted worthy to suffer shame, or even death itself, for the one sufficient name in which alone is salvation. Conclusion: Who can doubt which of those four characters is the one which it would be happiest to live with, safest and most glorious to possess in death? Believe only, and it shall be yours!

(Dean Vaughan.)

Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation of all the people
I. IT IS STRANGE HOW A SINGLE NAME HERE AND THERE SECURES REMEMBRANCE.

1. It is almost as when one looks out across the sea, and upon the surface, all grey and monotonous, there comes one flash of silver. Why should that especial wave have such peculiar privilege? It is not any larger than the rest, and is made of no different water; it is simply that it happened to leap just where the sun was smiting, and so it becomes illustrious. So the sun of history shines on this great sea of human life; and the special career which happens to leap just where the sun is striking catches his glory and seizes men's notice and remembrance. If the man's life is larger than other lives, so much the better, — it catches so much more of sunshine. If it is of special fineness, made of more lustrous stuff than Other men's, so much the better still — it turns the sunshine into a peculiar radiance. But still the essential thing is that it should leap at the right moment and should be turned the right way. With these conditions even a very common life becomes illustrious; and without them the largest and the finest character melts back into the bosom of the humanity out of which it sprung, unnoticed, unremembered.

2. These illustrious men when they appear are of more than merely phenomenal value. In their illumination the whole mass of humanity finds its illustration and understands itself. Each of them becomes the representative of some smaller group, to which he almost gives his name. Often, indeed, it is only a degenerate caricature of the higher nature which they present. The dogmatist names himself by the great name of St. Paul. The feeble sentimentalist counts himself the twin-brother of St. John. The dainty sceptic, dabbling in unbelief, takes the name of earnest, puzzled, simple-souled St. Thomas to himself. But, after all, there is a constant tendency in their association with the highest types of their several natures and tendencies to draw them upward and to make each of them a more worthy expression of his characteristic qualities than he could be if he knew it only in himself. In this truth lies one of the greatest advantages of the study of the representative men of human history.

3. I ask you to turn to the story of a man whose name flashes for a moment as the light of the New Testament history falls upon the life of Jerusalem at the beginning of the Christian Church. The flash is only for a moment, and yet the impression which it leaves is very clear. He is peculiarly a representative man, and the nature which he represents is one which appeals peculiarly to our modern life.

II. LET US RECALL THE HISTORY OF GAMALIEL. He was one of the most famous teachers of the Jewish law.

1. All Jewish history declares that he was one of the ablest of the learned men of the nation. There were two schools among the Jews — that of Shammai, which was strict and narrow; and that of Hillel, which was liberal and free. Gamaliel was the grandson of Hillel, and belonged to his school. He was one of the few rabbis who allowed their students the study of Greek literature. He taught that all persons engaged in works of mercy, duty, or necessity, should be exempt from the more stringent Sabbatical traditions; he bade his disciples greet even the pagans on their feast-days with the "Peace be with you." In ways like these he showed the largeness of his spirit, and the people loved him. He was one of the seven among the Jewish doctors who alone have been honoured with the supreme title of Rabban. He lived to a good old age, and died about

2. In the New Testament Gamaliel appears twice, and both times in the most interesting way.(1) As a great preacher of toleration. Every great teacher and scholar ought to be aware of the mystery and of the mightiness of Truth, and therefore be prepared to see Truth linger and hesitate, and even seem to be turned back, and yet to keep a clear assurance that Truth must come right in the end, and that the only way to help her is to keep her free, so that she shall be at liberty to help herself. There is something in Gamaliel which reminds one of Milton. The one, like the other, seems to feel that any attempt to help truth save by securing her liberty is impertinent; that all attempts to make truth strong either by disarming her enemies or by choosing for her what weapons she shall fight her battles with, is not a homage to her strength, but an insulting insinuation of her weakness. The scholar of Truth must trust Truth; that is Gamaliel's ground.(2) And this character has close connection with the fact that he was the teacher of St. Paul. Such a teacher as that has a special interest. He is one of those men who give other men the chance to make history rather than make it themselves. They themselves are almost of necessity relegated to obscurity. The very splendour of the career of their pupils makes it impossible for the world to see them; as the flash of fire from the gun's mouth, and the rush of the burning shell on its tremendous way, makes it impossible to see the gun itself in whose deep heart the power of the explosion was conceived and born.(a) We can picture to ourselves Gamaliel watching Paul, and we can think of the calm large-minded teacher following the career of his fiery-hearted scholar, and, however he disagreed with what he thought his delusions, rejoicing in his faithfulness and force.(b) And if we look the other way, there are few things finer than to see the reverence and gratitude with which the best men of active life look back to the quiet teachers who furnished them with the materials of living. Even from the midst of his missionary journeys, and his prison in Rome, we are able to believe that St. Paul looked back to the lessons of faithfulness and generosity which he had learned of the great teacher of his youth.(c) There are some of us whose work in life seems to assume mainly this character. Parents, teachers, quiet helpers of other lives, it seems as if we were rather providing other souls with the conditions of living than living ourselves. In the apparent stationariness of much of our experience, seeing life flow by us, as the river flows by the tree, it is good to live thus by the life to which we try to minister, as the tree lives by the river whose waters it at the same time does something to colour and to direct.(3) But there is a larger view of Gamaliel than this. He has his relation not merely to St. Paul, but to the whole opening history of Christianity. There are some men whose whole influence is to keep history open, so that whatever good thing is trying to get done in the world can get done. The counsel of Gamaliel seems to point him out as being such a man. There are men who seem to shut up a community, so that, as far as their influence extends, if a new thought were waiting to be spoken or a new deed all ready to be done, it would be thrown back and made hopeless. Was not this exactly what Jesus charged upon the Scribes and Pharisees: "Ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men. Ye neither go in yourselves; neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in"? They made great deeds, fresh thoughts, enthusiastic consecration to first principles appear impossible. There is a still stronger instance of the same blighting power in the record that Jesus "could there do no mighty work, because of the people's unbelief." It was possible for men so to shut up a whole district of the land that even Christ's marvellous power could not do its work there. And in our little circles are there not men so distrustful of the higher impulses, men so unbelieving and so scornful, that we see the young people, the earnest people, shut up their lives before them as the flowers shut up at night; and there is no hope for any great thing to be done or thought while they are there. I do not mean the sober, thoughtful, accurate, critical men who act like the healthy frost, which kills the gnats and mosquitoes, but makes every higher being live with a fuller life; but the men who are set upon making all the world live in their way, and who have no real faith in God, nor therefore in man. But there are other men who, not doing themselves perhaps great deeds, seem to make great deeds, or a least to make great life, possible. Such men, in our community, in our family circles, in our own little groups, whatever they are, any of us may be. We cannot make the wind to blow, — it bloweth where it listeth; but we can keep the windows open, so that when it blows the chambered life about us shall not fail to receive its freshness.

III. GAMALIEL BELIEVED IN GOD.

1. To him, surrounding all that man does and working through it, there is God. And with God are the final issues and destinies of things. Work as man will, he cannot make a plan succeed which God disowns; work as man will, he cannot make a plan fail which God approves. That is a noble and distinct faith. These words of Gamaliel are the words of all progressive spirits. They were the words of Luther, who opened Europe and made the best of modern history a possibility. Fitly do they stand to-day carved upon the pedestal of his great statue at Wittenberg.

2. Nobody can doubt that Gamaliel went back from the Sanhedrin to teach with all his might that Christianity was wrong. He had his thoughts, and he upheld them. He said, "This is the truth"; only, as he said that, he must have said also to his scholars — young Saul of Tarsus sitting there among them "There are men here in Jerusalem — earnest, brave, enthusiastic, wofully deluded, as I think — who are asserting that the Christ has come, and that His reign has begun. I think these men are wrong. I give you my reasons. By and by you will see their fanaticism wither and dry up because no life of God is in it. But now let them alone. Believe your truth, assert it, prove it, live it: so will you do your best to kill this folly." That was Gamaliel. That is the true spirit always. Men do not flee out of the furnace of bigotry only to freeze on the open and desolate plains of indifference. You believe, and yet you have no wish to persecute; and any reader of the history of faith — nay, any student of his own soul — knows how rarely these two conditions have met in perfect harmony.

3. Persecution sounds like a bygone word, and yet all persecution has not passed away. Social ostracism comes in to take the place of the more crude and violent punishments of other days, and persecution lingers still in a form yet more subtle — in the disposition to attach disastrous consequences in this world or the next to honest opinions which we hold to be mistaken; the desire to fasten ripen intellectual convictions those stigmas of wickedness which can belong only to personal character. When that last form of terrorism shall have passed away, then persecution will have finally perished. Man will cease persecuting his brother man, partly because he will outgrow the wish to persecute, but partly also because he will see how useless it is to persecute. We shall come in the end to welcome all the honest and earnest thought of men, partly because we see the good of it, however it differs from our own, and partly because we cannot help ourselves. It is by the combined forces of these two causes that every great progress of human thought has taken place.

4. And when all persecution goes, there will come a chance and a demand for the two forms of human influence which will then have all the work to do. When you have thoroughly believed that it is both wrong and useless to try to frighten your fellow-man out of his faith trite yours, then what remains? First, you may argue with him, tell him why you believe, show him how unreasonable his unbelief or his fanaticism is. And if you cannot argue, or if your friend is one to whose mind arguments bring no conviction, then you must live your faith. And then just trying to live out its own life, to turn its own assured belief into obedient action, gradually other people become aware that the true soul is bearing a witness to truth which must have power. In a live State the soldiers have their useful duty, but it is not the soldiers who make the State's true strength. Its faithful citizens, ,living their industrious lives within its institutions, which their lives are always filling with life, they are the true defenders of the State, making it strong, and making its strength impressively manifest to all the world. So the great faith needs learned reasoners; but it needs obedient servants and disciples more.

5. And that brings us back to Gamaliel. Was he, then, right? Could he then, can a man to-day, leave all to God and be quietly sure that He will vindicate the truth? A thousand fluctuations in the varying battle make us doubt. Many and many a time it seems as if between the error and the truth it were merely a question of which had the cleverest men upon its side. And yet you know that, if there be a God at all, Gamaliel was right. There must be time, there must be patience; but the real final question of two trees is the question of their roots. That which is rooted in God must live. The final glory of Gamaliel lies there. He believed that God was the only life of this world, that all which did not live in Him must die. We do not know whether Gamaliel ever became a Christian. The legends say that he did. History seems to say that he did not. But at least we know that if we have rightly read his character and story, he made the Christian faith more possible for other men, and he must somewhere, if not here, then beyond, have come to the truth and to the Christ Himself.

(Bp. Phillips Brooks.)

Note here —

I. Good oratory neutralised by a corrupt audience.

1. The speaker.(1) His ability and position. Some suppose him to be the son of Simeon, who took the infant Jesus in his arms, and the grandson of Hillel, both famous Jewish doctors. The exalted title of Rabban was given him for his great wisdom. He had been president of the Sanhedrin, and was the tutor of St. Paul. He was popular too — "had in reputation among all the people." All this would give weight to his oratory, which would be wanting in a less distinguished man.(2) The course he recommended. Had he urged some abstract proposition, or a difficult or dangerous course of action, one need not have wondered at the ineffectiveness of his address; but the course he recommended was most reasonable and easy, "Refrain from these men," etc.(3) The argument he employed.(a) If the movement was undivine, opposition was unnecessary — it would come to nought of itself. In support of this, first, he gives facts referring to Theudas and Judas. Secondly, he states a principle — viz., that the human would perish and the Divine flourish. The argument is ad hominem, his hearers on their own principles were bound to take his advice. They professed to regard the new religion as an undivine thing and therefore need not take the trouble of opposing it.(b) If the movement was of God, opposition would be futile and impious. Attempts to crush the cause of God are as futile as attempts to roll back the tides of the ocean, or reverse the course of the planets — worse than futile, it is fighting against God.(4) The impression he produced — "To him they agreed." They could not but feel the force of his arguments.

2. So far, Gamaliel's speech seems powerful, and one might have thought that he would have gained his end. But no; they pursued their course of persecution (ver. 40). What rendered this oratory so ineffective? The character of the audience. Prejudice warped their judgment and malice inspired their hearts. The eloquence of a discourse depends upon the mind of the auditory. Hence what is felt to be eloquence in one audience would not be in another. He is the most eloquent man in his sphere who advocates the wishes of his hearers: otherwise, though he reasons with the logic of Aristotle, and declaims with the power of Demosthenes, his eloquence will not be felt. Paul was a babbler at Athens. Let, then, hearers who would benefit free their minds from prejudice and listen with candour; and let speakers be above pandering to low tastes and sectarian sympathies.

II. CULPABLE INDIFFERENCE JUSTIFYING ITSELF BY PLAUSIBLE LOGIC. The non-intervention here recommended may in some aspects admit of justification. Statesmen, e.g., have no right to interfere with the religious opinions and movements of the people, so long as there is no infringement of the rights of others. The conscience is sacred to God. Men may argue, but not coerce. Again, the advice may be justified on the ground of social philosophy, supposing Gamaliel believed Christianity to be an imposture. The way to give social power to error is to persecute it. But looking at it in a broad light the councillor displayed a reprehensible moral indifference. Because —

1. As a man, he was bound to satisfy himself whether the apostles' cause was of man or of God by honest investigation.

2. He had abundant evidence to satisfy himself on the question.

3. If it was the work of God he was bound to go heart and soul into it. We cannot therefore but regard his argument as formularised to apologise for his indifference. In this respect he is a type of a large class whose policy is to allow things to take their course and settle themselves whether true or false.

III. A TEST BY WHICH THE DIVINITY OF CHRISTIANITY IS ESTABLISHED. "If it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it." Christianity has not been overthrown, but has gone on conquering and to conquer.

IV. AN EXAMPLE OF THE ALL-CONQUERING SPIRIT OF GENUINE RELIGION (vers. 40-42). Observe —

1. Their exultation in ignominious suffering which can only be accounted for by —

(1)A consciousness of rectitude.

(2)A supreme affection for Christ. Love rejoices to suffer for its object.

(3)A recollection that their Master suffered in the same way.

(4)A fresh assurance of their genuine interest in Christ. He had told them that they should suffer (Matthew 5:11, 12; Matthew 10:17-22).

2. Their invincibility in prohibited labour. No power could break down their holy purpose.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

I. A GOOD COUNSEL.

1. As a rule of judgment when we see the end of God's ways. Then at last it shall certainly hold good. "Every plant which My Heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up."

2. As a rule of conduct when carnal zeal will resort to carnal weapons in spiritual matters; and when no light has arisen as to whether a work be of God or man. In this sense Luther applied this counsel to the Elector of Treves as one undecided.

II. A BAD COUNSEL.

1. As a rule of judgment when, in the midst of the imperfect course of the world, good and evil are judged according to their external and temporary success. As a rule of conduct, when it is transformed into a pillow of laziness, to get rid of an inward and earnest decision, when God's Word speaks distinctly enough, and God's Spirit points clearly enough; and to avoid courageous acting and energetic witness-bearing, when we are really decided.

(K. Gerok.)

I. A GOOD COUNSEL.

1. Of humility before God, the Supreme Judge.

2. Of charitableness toward our neighbour who thinks differently, and perhaps erroneously.

3. Of watchfulness over our passions.

II. A BAD COUNSEL.

1. Of a policy judging only according to outward success.

2. Of a toleration toward that which is evil.

3. Of an indifferentism undecided in itself. Conclusion: Better the deed of the apostles than the counsel of Gamaliel.

(K. Gerok.)

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